In response to the increasing growth of the cloud streaming industry, Google LLC today announced the general availability of Media CDN, a content distribution platform that can handle the delivery of immersive media at a massive scale.
Using Media CDN, media and entertainment customers will be able to deliver streaming experiences across the globe. It is built for customers with huge amounts of streaming content that need high bandwidth and low-latency user experiences.
Shailesh Shukla, vice president of networking at Google Cloud, told SiliconANGLE in an interview that Media CDN’s foundational advantage is Google’s network. It uses the same infrastructure that Google has developed for YouTube to deliver video to over 2 billion users, which is now being scaled up globally for Google Cloud customers.
“As we’ve seen through the pandemic and before it has been experiencing dramatic growth,” Shukla said. “Audiences are moving to digital experiences and content providers want to deliver digital media on a global scale. Streaming video now accounts for more than 54% of the total internet bandwidth, which has increased dramatically over the past few years.”
To keep up with this demand, Google has invested resources in building out its content delivery network. That allows providers to cache content closer to their users by having a presence in more than 200 countries and 1,300 cities around the world. By putting the content being delivered closer to the users requesting the video, it lowers the latency, enabling higher bitrates and reducing buffering needs, which results in a superior experience, especially on mobile devices.
Anyone who watches a lot of video on the internet has probably encountered long waits while a video “queues up” its buffer or suddenly stalls while playing. A spinning indicator appears and the play bar at the bottom stops while the gray unplayed section trails out further. That’s the video buffering itself so that it can play through without stopping, which can happen a lot if there’s low bandwidth or high latency.
For developers and businesses, Media CDN is delivered as “infrastructure as code” and designed to be as extensible as possible using a software-defined approach. As a result, it uses a comprehensive set of application programming interfaces and support for automation tools such as Terraform. This allows customers to define their own cloud network tooling and operations to match their own specific needs.
Such needs could include minimizing calls to origin servers for content in order to reduce capacity and performance stress. For example, Media CDN offers multiple tiers of caching across the globe to allow cost savings for commonly streamed media files that can be offloaded from centralized servers.
U-Next, a popular Japanese entertainment streaming platform, recently implemented and configured Media CDN to speed up and optimize traffic flow for its streaming video. According to the company, it needed a content delivery network with a high cache rate and low latency.
“Google Cloud’s Media CDN helps us efficiently scale our infrastructure, which is challenging with a vast library of content,” said Rutong Li, chief technology officer at U-Next. “Media CDN offloaded 98.3% of requests from our origin server while delivering consistent great quality.”
Another important element of Media CDN’s suite of tools is integration with Google’s vast array of analytics tools. It also includes detailed metrics for playback tracing, real-time visibility and performance diagnostics. Visibility into the network is available through Google Cloud’s operations suite, and Media CDN also has a set of APIs that allow it to connect to external analytics services such as Grafana or ElasticSearch.
“Media CDN is modern, meaning that it is cloud-native and developer-friendly,” said Shukla. “It’s also extensible, so it’s not something that’s just what it is today, it’s something that can grow by adding third-party stuff. And it’s a platform with built-in security and all the power of Google infrastructure so that media companies can deliver really powerful immersive experiences globally.”